The Torture of the Ikoku Four
By Samuel Victor Akpan and Chioma Ezenwafor
The last certainly hasn’t been heard of the conflict between the Police and the artisans arrested by the E-crack unit of the force for alleged theft and cultism.
The mechanics now known as Ikoku Four were arrested and tortured by the Police alongside late Chima Ikwunado, who died in custody. They say they are yet to receive their personal belongings from the Police.
Ikoku Four were acquitted of car snatching and cultism, and then discharged by the court two weeks ago.
One of the four, Osaze Friday, who spoke on behalf of others say their phones, work tools and more than one hundred thousand naira cash are still in the custody of the Police.
He also says the late Ikwunado was a loyal and friendly person.
Ikoku Four: What We Know So Far
On December 23, 2019, motor mechanic Chima Ikwunado died in Police custody at Mile One Police station in Port Harcourt, after he and three others were arrested for alleged car theft and cultism. This sparked the hashtag ‘Justice for Chima’ about three weeks later.
It began trending on social media after the story of their torture was shared on Facebook.
The story was narrated by Erapamo Eradiri, the man whose car the Police accused late Chima and the other four of stealing.
The Police denied torturing them. They say an autopsy showed he died of high sugar level, a claim the late Chima’s pregnant wife disputes.
The other four, Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere were charged to court for car snatching and cultism.
With bodily wounds, the four men, later referred to as Ikoku Four, were remanded in prison custody after the Police charged them to court for car snatching and cultism.
Chima’s death sparked protest as traders at the spare parts market, Ikoku, Port Harcourt where he owned a shop, took to the streets to demand that his corpse be released for autopsy and justice be served.
The protest turned violent and police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. Some were arrested.
The continued detention of the Ikoku Four sparked further public outrage over the now burning issue. ‘#IkokuFour’ began trending alongside ‘Justice for Chima’ and ‘End Police Brutality’.
Civil society organisations stepped in.
After visiting the Ikoku Four in prison, one of the organisations, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights raised an alarm over their health conditions. Their lawyer pushed for bail which the court referred to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
On January 29, the four men were discharged and acquitted by the Magistrate court in Port Harcourt after the DPP advice said the four accused persons had no case to answer.
Shortly after their release, the Ikoku Four spoke to newsmen outside the prison gates and showed their injuries.
One of them, Ifeanyi Onyekwere who had the most swollen open injuries on his two feet, laps and hands named the police officers who he said tortured him.
A footage of Ifeanyi with his open wounds has gone viral.